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George MacDonald’s Widespread Influence

gm_youngA plethora of articles populate the Internet covering George MacDonald’s influence on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. Below you will find a collection of articles and factoids detailing some of his even more widespread influence.

By way of introduction, any influence George MacDonald had on others must also be traced back to the influence these had on him: Novalis, James Hogg, Shakespeare, E.T.A. Hoffman, and Dante (provided by The George MacDonald Informational Web).

  • MacDonald can be credited for convincing Lewis Carroll to submit his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland manuscript for publication after sharing the story with MacDonald’s children. In return, Carroll – a noted photographer of his time – took pictures of MacDonald’s children. (Abe Books)
  • Edith Nesbit‘s biographer, Julia Briggs, noted that Nesbit “helped to reverse the great tradition of children’s literature inaugurated by Lewis CarrollGeorge MacDonald and Kenneth Grahame, in turning away from their secondary worlds to the tough truths to be won from encounters with things-as-they-are, previously the province of adult novels.” (Wikipedia)
  • Elizabeth Yates compiled or edited a collection of George MacDonald’s poems as well as his biography.
  • Oswald Chambers (1874–1917) wrote in Christian Disciplines, vol. 1, (pub. 1934) that “it is a striking indication of the trend and shallowness of the modern reading public that George MacDonald’s books have been so neglected.” (Wikipedia)
  • George MacDonald is credited as founding the Kailyard School (or “The New Scottish School”) in The Critic, May 15, 1897.

From Wikipedia’s “In popular culture” section:

  • Rock group The Waterboys titled their album Room to Roam after a passage in MacDonald’s Phantastes, also found in Lilith. The title track of the album comprises a MacDonald poem from the text of Phantastes set to music by the band. The works Lilith and Phantastes are both named as books in a library, in the title track of another Waterboys album, Universal Hall. The Waterboys have also quoted from C. S. Lewis in several songs including “Church Not Made With Hands” and “Further Up, Further In”, confirming the enduring link in modern pop culture between Macdonald and Lewis.
  • A verse from The Light Princess is cited in the “Beauty and the Beast” song by Nightwish.
  • Contemporary new-age musician Jeff Johnson wrote a song titled “The Golden Key” based on George MacDonald’s story of the same name. He has also written several other songs inspired by MacDonald and the Inklings.
  • Christianceltic punk band Ballydowse have a song called “George MacDonald” on their album Out of the Fertile Crescent. The song is both taken from MacDonald’s poem “My Two Geniuses” and liberally quoted from Phantastes.
  • Jazz pianist and recording artist Ray Lyon has a song called “Up The Spiral Stairs” on his CD Beginning io See which was released in 2007. The song features lyrics from MacDonald’s 26 and 27 September devotional readings from the book Diary of an Old Soul.
  • American classical composer John Craton has utilized several of MacDonald’s stories in his works, including “The Gray Wolf” (in a tone poem of the same name for solo mandolin — 2006) and portions of “The Cruel Painter,” Lilith, and The Light Princess (in Three Tableaux from George MacDonald for mandolin, recorder, and cello — 2011).